Proposed SWSZ Remote Art Draft, Revised 9th April, 2003, Version 02


D V Rogers

At 10.59a.m. on the 14th October 1968, the small town of Meckering, about 130 km east of Perth, was destroyed by an earthquake. The magnitude of the Meckering Earthquake was 6.9 on the Richter Scale making it one of the largest recorded in the seismic history of Australia. The Meckering earthquake resulted in he first tectonic ground breakage to be recorded in Australia.

The Meckering Earthquake was located in a well-documented zone of seismic activity which is the most active region of Australia. This region is centred about 150 kilometres east of Perth and is known as the South-West Seismic Zone (SWSZ) and measures roughly 300 kilometres by 500 kilometres. According to Geoscience Australia (AGSO), more than 12,000 earthquakes have been recorded in the area since September 2001 with most of these events being aftershocks of larger events.

The principal fault scarp of the Meckering earthquake is nearly 37 km long, aligned approx N-S, and had a maximum observed vertical displacement of 3.5 metres. Trenching across this scarp took place in 1990, and it was concluded that the Meckering earthquake was the result of the reactivation of an old fault line, possibly tens of thousands years old.

The proposed work involves identifying an appropriate site along the Meckering principal fault scarp and with plant equipment re-landscaping a selected and surveyed site. It is integral that the bottom of this sloping pit will be below the level of the land and ideally if possible below sea level. An earthquake simulator will then be placed on site and operated autonomously for a minimum period of approximately three months. The site will be made accessible to the general public and visitation to the actual site will be encouraged, located approximately 135km form Perth and 70km from Kellerberrin. (See Map Below)

Conceptually the work is a non-site feedback loop between machine control and the actual site of generated tectonic displacement. Primarily the work will be presented via the WWW with realtime video and audio dissemination, daily journal logs and current updated earthquake event logs. It is assumed that a body of resulting documentation will be exhibited after the intervention within a gallery context.

"A complex investigation toward creating a machine control (automaton) arising from live representation (mirror) of a remote physical environment (earth). A remote installation-based system (telematic) artwork, mapping the terrain of the spatio-temporality of shifting tectonics and digital information networks''.

The near-realtime data feed for the control of the earthquake simulator would be supplied from either one or both of the following two sources;
1. Globally monitored seismic data collected by the USGS.
2. South-West Seismic Zone data (Local Area) collected by Geosciences Australia (formally AGSO)

Inherently the work is fraught with many logistical hurdles of which several possible partners have been identified to make the work possible.
  • PICA, BEAP and ISAKA acting as host arts institution of the work.
  • The Australia Council For The Arts New Media Board, Presentation and Promotion Fund.
  • Geological Survey Western Australia. It would be necessary to have support from this government body for permission for crown land access particuly when the disturbance of land mass is involved.
  • Geoscience Australia for access to locally generated seismic recordings which are telemetered to Canberra. Geoscience Australia currently has six locations of monitoring stations within the South-West Seismic Zone. This area in question is presently the most monitored seismic region in Australia.
  • Support from a local mining company or civil engineering contractor who would be willing to donate plant equipment and operators necessary to landscape the site and if necessary grade road access to the site.
  • Donation of a diesel powered generator and support from a communications provider for the supply of a dedicated telephone line enabling for remote and dedicated ip dial up access.

    Part Earthwork, Part Electronica, Part Installation, Part Action, Part Laboratory, Part Machine, Part Document

    An Introduction To Earthquake Activity In Western Australia

    Seismonitor Online Exhibition Catalogue 2002

    D V Rogers Current Curriculum Vitae

    Overview of Earthquake Simulator Specifications

    Adelaide Festival Proposal 2002

    Simulator Control Specifications